It has been several months since I have written. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because the words just haven’t been there. For weeks and weeks, the words just would not come. I rely heavily upon the Lord to open my mind so that I can write what HE wants to sink deep into the souls of those who read it. So imagine my excitement when the words started to come again. Hopefully I can do them justice.
The most precious part of ourselves is our very soul. It’s what we were before we came here and what we will be after we leave. It is what we believe (as Mormons) gives life to the body. The very essence of who we are. So it makes complete sense that we are in a war between good and evil for our very souls. God wants our souls to become enlightened, stronger, healthier, full of love, more serviceable, ultimately more like Him. While Satan wants to destroy our souls, demoralize, demonize, and demolish it. He wants us to be fearful and full of hate! What a contrast that is.
But the great characteristic of we humans is that we are “survivors”! And in this war of worlds, we are “soul survivors”! Today I want to talk about how we can steer clear of Satan’s traps that he sets for us. I want you to re-examine your life and make sure that your SOULS are surviving the onslaught of his evil.
Here are 5 ways (in no particular order) that Satan works to capture our souls. Hopefully if you have fallen into some of these traps, this will help you realize it and get back on God’s path, safe and sound so you can be a “soul survior”. 🙂
1. Confusion and Contention- All you have to do is open your facebook page or watch the daily news to be bombarded by these two friends. The political, religious, and other negative debates that happen online are among the most damaging weapons to our soul. Sometimes we become so consumed with being right that we begin see things less clearly. Even if it’s wrong, it becomes “right” in our mind. If Satan can get us to argue amongst one another, in our homes, workplaces, on social media, or even in our churches, then the Spirit can not reside there. If we participate in this practice we our opening up ourselves to this trap (or flaxen cord, if you will).
Elder Kim B. Clark of the seventy said, “Our time is a dangerous time—a time of great evil and temptation, a time of confusion and commotion. In these perilous times, the Lord’s prophet on the earth, President Thomas S. Monson, has called us to rescue the wounded in spirit, to stand for truth with courage, and to build the kingdom of God. Whatever level of spirituality or faith or obedience we now have, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. We need greater spiritual light and power. We need eyes to see more clearly the Savior working in our lives and ears to hear His voice more deeply in our hearts.”
I encourage you to take a look at the words and discussions that you are having. Check to make sure they are positive and uplifting in every way. There is no better way to remain on the Lord’s side than to use your words wisely and with great care. They are something that we can’t take back once they are said. So be wise.
2. Distraction- A Distraction is something that takes away from what matters most in our lives, our relationships with God and our families and friends. Recently, in my church, our prophet President Russell M. Nelson, spoke to teenagers ages 12-18 about the dangers of distractions. Mainly social media distractions. He recommended that we “take a break from fake”. For 7 days he asked us to get off of social media and see what we find in our lives that might be different. But it’s not just social media that distracts us and sets us up for Satan to work on our souls. It can be work, our phones, the internet, well meaning events that take time away from our families and what matters most. This idea of distractions has become such an easy trap for Satan to ensnare us with. If he can get us to look the other way and become distracted by “shiny objects” then he is keeping us from looking at and hearing what is most important. This also can muffle the Spirit from teaching and guiding us in the right direction. When we are distracted, we are not paying attention. And when we are not paying attention, Satan can sneak into our lives and set his trap.
King Benjamin tells us that we should hearken unto the word of the Lord. He tells us, “open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.” (Mosiah 2:9.) Sometimes I become so distracted by the world that I do not hear. Do you ever find yourself in that spot? Let’s try harder to slow down, look around, and pay attention to the things that really matter. The Spirit can work more effectively in our lives when we are not distracted by less important matters. It can mentor and teach and help us along our way in this journey to win our souls.
3. Busyness- Sometimes we become so busy and stressed out that it feels as if we are in a vortex being dragged down and down to the gulf of misery and woe. Haha, I know that seems so depressing.
But it’s true, when stress and busyness become a burden on us, it can literally start to affect our health and well being. We can make ourselves physically sick trying to “do it all”. And really where does this come from? It is another little trap that Satan uses, and quite effectively I might add. We can look at any image on magazines or in movies, or on our phones. We are constantly bombarded with “superwomen and men” who seem to be “doing it all”. But the sad thing is, that it really is mostly fake. You get to see the one thing in their life that is going really good at the moment. We don’t see the stress, the anguish, the despair that is happening behind the scenes. We just want to be like them! We have all heard this compared to holding spinning plates in the air. We keep adding one more thing (plate) to our “to do” list until our spinning plates become so burdensome that we soon end up dropping them all. We need to slow down… SLOW DOWN… Learn to say no when it’s too much. Turn off the switches that are making us think that we need to do one more thing. It’s ok to be yourself and not try to do it all. In fact, that is what God wants for our precious souls. Calmness, peacefulness and love to envelope us, our souls are so tender and important to Him. We should treat them with great care.
4. Deception- In our shifting and changing world things are not always what they appear to be. Appearances can be deceptive and destructive. And unfortunately Satan has been at this game for over 1000 years. He seems to have a bit of an advantage on us. I mean, most of us have only been around for less than 100 ;). But again, we have the Lord on our side. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us if we are open and listening for it. But that doesn’t take away the fact that deception is real. And it can be scary.
Have you ever been in boat on a completely calm lake and then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the wind kicks up and the waves become dangerously large? I have and it’s very, very scary. We were at Lake Powell one year with my little family, enjoying a sunny day out on the boat. The storm started to kick up and then our boat stalled. It wouldn’t start, no matter how hard we tried. We were floating in the lake that was quickly becoming rougher and scarier. What were we we to do? Of course we said some pretty strong prayers and tears were shed. But thankfully, in that situation, we had life jackets and others nearby who came to the rescue when all seemed lost. They threw out a rope and towed us to safety.
Likewise, in our lives we are attracted to what seems to be calm and serene at the time. But then once we jump in, we find that the waves are too much for our tender souls to take on. When we find that we have been deceived in some way, we can reach out for our “life jackets”, we can look to our leaders as our guides. We can follow what the Prophet said. We can stay on the covenant path. Most importantly, we can seek the Lord in honest prayer to help guide us in the right direction. If we have lost our way, or find ourselves somewhere different than we had planned to be, we need only look up! God will throw us a rope, He will tow us back to safety. Obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel are our life jackets. We must use them to be a “soul Survivor”!
5. Comparison- Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, is the greatest accomplishment!” I love that quote because it really defines how important it is to guard our souls. Remember our soul is the very essence of who we are!
Comparison is such an easy trap to fall into. We all want to be loved, admired, and looked up to. But doing it at the cost of losing our identity or who we really are, can bring great damage to our souls. I have seen it happen to myself and others when we get caught up in trying to be like someone we admire. We may start to dress, talk, and act differently than what we normally do. Our very core values may begin to shift.
Now, I’m not saying that we can’t improve ourselves. We should always strive to be moving in an upward direction, stretching ourselves to reach toward our full potential. But the real trap comes when we change ourselves to match what some one else is doing. I have seen many people change their whole value system as they try to emulate someone. And it happens very slowly and almost unnoticeably. Then they start to become examples to others who are not seeing them for who they truly are.
Here is another way that I would encourage us to take a good strong look at what we are putting out there for the world to see. Is it truly who we are? Does it promote our own value system or someone else’s? Are we trapped in an identity that we no longer identify with? These are some really tough questions, but also very important in evaluating where you are at and where you want to be. And also what type of role model you want to be for others. When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare and compete, everyone will respect you! And your soul will survive and thrive! God loves our sweet souls so much! He is fighting this war for our souls, right along side us. But we must be aware of the traps that are meant to ensnare and capture our very souls.
**I want you to know that in all honesty, the only way that I can speak on these things is because I have, at times, fallen victim to them. I have found myself in all 5 of these situations. It is only through honest and thorough examination of ones self that we can reverse our direction and get back on the path towards God. Sometimes it’s just a mere meander off the path and we pause for a moment and then turn back and we are right back on the path in no time. But sometimes it can be a fork that we took in the complete wrong direction. However, all is not lost. God is on our side in this war of souls. He is doing everything that He can to help guide us and lead us safely back to the right path. He is sending angels our way, I know that with all my heart. Our very souls depend on it! One of my very favorite scriptures comes from the Doctrine and Covenants section 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
We CAN do this life! And we CAN do it GREAT and BIG and WONDERFUL! We CAN be “soul survivors”! I know it and God knows it! You are His and He loves you. Let’s take great care of our tender souls!
#holdtotherod #soulsurvivors #lovewhoyouare